The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, visits India for the first time in the 800 years of the Custody's existence. | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, visits India for the first time in the 800 years of the Custody's existence.


During his six-day visit, starting September 24, the Franciscan priest will interact with the Indian bishops, priests, nuns, religious and seminarians.

A day after his arrival in Bangalore, the Custos will attend a session with the religious, priests, students and staff of the Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK), Pontifical Athenaeum of Philosophy, Theology and Canon Law.

The theme of the meet in DVK, Bangalore is “Holy Land: The Christian Concerns.”

On September 28, Fr. Pizzaballa will attend the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore.

He will address the Catholic hierarchy of India on the concerns of the Indian pilgrimages to Holy Land.

Fr. Jayaseellan Pitchaimuthu, a Franciscan serving in the Holy Tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem and the chaplain of the Indian Migrant Community and the pilgrims in the Holy Land, said Indian pilgrims have not fully benefited from the service.

He said the Indian tour operators, local agents, and guides have not shown enough interest and commitment to make the pilgrimage a faith-renewing experience for many.

In responding to such needs, issues and concerns of the pilgrims in the Holy Land, the Indian Chaplaincy of the Holy Land has invited the Custos of the Holy Land.

He said Fr. Pizzaballa will suggest certain guidelines and possibilities on how to organize pilgrimages to Holy land.

He is here also to encourage Franciscans and other priests to enter the ministry of Holy land pilgrimages in the future.

The Custos of the Holy Land is the Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor living throughout the Middle East.

He has jurisdiction over the territories of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt (in part), Syria, Cyprus and Rhodes and numerous houses or Commissariats in various parts of the world.

The main task of the Custos, in addition to animate the life of the friars, is to coordinate and direct the reception of pilgrims who come to the Holy Land for pilgrimage and pray at the shrines of our Redemption.

This task was bestowed by the Holy See over 600 years ago. The term used at those times to designate this task was "custody" of the holy places, from which derived the terms still in use "Custody" and "Custos".

The most important role of the Custos, therefore, is to receive pilgrims at the Holy Shrines, offer them spaces of prayer and make available hostels for those who cannot afford expensive hotels.

The Custos ensures that friars are available to receive and talk with pilgrims at the holy places. His jurisdiction includes all the Catholic Christian sanctuaries entrusted to the Franciscan Community.

Edited from:
Cathnews, India